How Drug and Alcohol Issues Affect Child Custody

Walters Gilbreath, PLLC

There are a number of parental issues that can affect child custody. One of those is the drug and alcohol issues of one or both of the parents. Unfortunately, handling the issue is not always as simple as just giving custody of the child to the parent who does not use drugs or alcohol, or putting the child in foster care if both parents are substance abusers. Keeping the child in the home and with at least one parent is the goal, as is allowing the non-custodial parent to see the child regularly if possible.

That does not mean that the issue of drug and alcohol abuse is taken lightly, though. One of the issues child custody lawyers must consider is whether one or both parents have substance abuse problems. Parents who are found to have drug and alcohol abuse problems may lose custody, and they may not be allowed to visit their children unsupervised – or at all, in some cases. Drug and alcohol testing are also commonly required as a condition of either visitation or custody. Of course, the abuse of drugs or alcohol must be proven, and must not be just an accusation by the other parent.

Once the abuse has been proven, which is usually done through hair and nail tests along with breathalyzers, it will be up to the judge to determine what type of custody or visitation the parent should have. Parents with substance abuse problems will generally not be given custody of their children. Supervised visits will most likely be ordered until the parent can prove continued sobriety. How long the parent must be clean and sober before being allowed to have unsupervised visits with his or her children will be up to the judge.

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